Document Management System Guide for Small Businesses

Document management systems offer plenty of benefits for businesses that use it as it addresses the challenges they face. There are, however, some features that small businesses should look out for, and we will provide a guide that they should follow.

Types of DMS

A document management system (DMS) refers to using a computer system that assists businesses with storing, tracking and managing electronic documents. There are two main types of document management systems that exist which are:

  1. Cloud-based document management systems
    Cloud-based document management systems are the preferred choice for most companies. These systems enable businesses to store and access their information remotely from the ‘cloud’. Since documents are stored in the cloud, businesses should access, manage, and edit their documents from any device, which offers greater convenience. Cloud-based management systems are incredibly quick, cheap and easy to implement, making them more accessible for small and medium businesses. They also do not require an IT team to install or maintain the software, as the service provider will do that for you.
  2. On-premise document management systems
    On-premise document management systems are the second most popular type of DMS. Businesses that use on-premise document management systems can use their own servers and storage when managing their documents. Companies might prefer to manage their documents as they will be responsible for the security and maintenance of documents. Unlike with cloud-based DMS, businesses will be directly responsible for their documents and the infrastructure required, which can be too time-consuming for some companies.

DMS Features

  1. Search function
    Businesses have to deal with many documents and records daily, and it is crucial that when they want to use them, they should find them quickly. Finding documents quickly is not something most employees can do, making the search function one of the most crucial features of a DMS. The search function allows businesses to find the data they are looking for, such as the vendor name, invoice number, and date, and retrieve the documents they are looking for. Some systems have tagging capabilities allowing you to organize and label documents in categories.
  2. Edit history
    Documents are constantly being changed, and businesses must keep track of these changes. Version control is something that employees struggle with, and DMS assists in overcoming this hurdle. The system provides detailed edit history containing the changes that were made and when and who made those changes. Through version control, employees can ensure that they are working on the latest version of a document.
  3. Mobile access
    Mobile access is an important feature that DMS offers that is helpful in a time when people want the convenience to view and edit documents from the comfort of their mobile devices. Mobile access allows employees to conduct quick tasks, such as contract approvals and once-off invoices.
  4. Permission access
    The documents within the organization might contain sensitive information that the business doesn’t want anyone to have access to. Keeping sensitive information secure is especially important in some industries, such as for healthcare providers who need to keep medical records confidential to maintain doctor and patient confidentiality. DMS provides a way to organize files that need to be kept secure and grant permission to specific people.

Document Management for Small Businesses

DMS is beneficial for small businesses as using paperless documents allows them to reduce errors, streamline operations and save time. The system also assists in creating a better organizational flow for all the employees to follow. Using the system will help the business in achieving success. Many of the features that DMS offers are beneficial for any business regardless of its size or industry. However, there are some features that companies should look out for that will make their operations easier.

Small businesses do not have the resources that larger businesses have, such as a full IT team that will troubleshoot and support the whole document management system. Therefore, they must find DMS that has a support team that can handle their support needs. Firstly, they will need to choose a system that will support their growth as the business should not choose a system that they will outgrow quickly. When the business grows, they will need to train their new employees on using the system so it should be easy to implement, understand and navigate. The system should also allow them to upload their information quickly. To avoid having to type their files manually, they should choose a system that has scanning capabilities.

Mistakes are unavoidable, especially when dealing documents, and businesses need to be well prepared for this. Small businesses are more vulnerable as a poor reputation could easily destroy them. Therefore, they should find a secure DMS that provides good security as well as disaster recovery features. A good document management system offers a cost-effective disaster recovery feature useful for critical information and data, allowing the business to bounce back quicker.


Small businesses face unique challenges that larger companies might not have to face. When it comes to the management of their documents, they should choose the right DMS that is designed to resolve the challenges that they face, allowing them to achieve extraordinary efficiency.